Today’s post isn’t meant to be as much of a review, but rather a simple post sharing a game that I loved growing up – Knights of the Round. Originally released in arcades by Capcom as but one of the sea of beat ’em up/hack ‘n slash games of the early 90’s, it was ported to the Super Nintendo in 1994 where I first played it as a kid. Most recently it was released as part of the Capcom Beat ‘Em Up Bundle in 2018; I spent last night playing through the game again on my Switch grabbing a few screenshots. If you’re at all familiar with the general gameplay of old-school beat ’em up games, you know what to expect – pummeling waves of enemies as you scroll from one stage to the next. The straightforward nature of such games made it very easy to pick up and play as a kid.
Knights of the Round is set in medieval England and follows the legend of King Arthur and his fabled Knights of the Round Table. Under the guidance of the wizard Merlin, Arthur and two of his knights – Lancelot and Percival embark forth on a quest for the mythical Holy Grail to overthrow evil King Garibaldi and unite all of Britain.
Players can choose any of the three characters, each one having slightly different attributes similar to other beat ’em ups of the day. As a kid I would always choose Arthur, having a balanced skill set but no specific strength or weakness. I would quite often play with my younger brother who would pick the slow, but powerful Percival with his giant battle axe, and a neighbor friend who would usually pick Lancelot. One difference from other similar games like Final Fight or Streets of Rage is each character will level up once passing a certain score. Arthur for example will begin the game equipped with standard-looking chain mail , but will gain more extravagant armor as you progress. By the higher experience levels, Arthur will be combating the forces of evil in a golden suit of armor that looks pretty awesome.
The game features seven different levels with a boss battle taking place at the end of each level, there are also several mid-bosses that will later appear as common enemies to strike down. There is a pretty diverse range of enemies you will have to fight as you progress, though in a trademark of the genre, many enemies will simply be a different color than a previous one indicating its higher difficulty or health level. Along the way you encounter different pickups that come from breaking various objects like barrels or wooden ramparts located outside villages and castles. As in other beat ’em ups developed by Capcom in the 90’s, health is acquired by picking up the random assortment of food scattered about the levels, such as turkeys, or salad platters. Video Game Logic: the mental connection to one’s own health and that of their virtual character is indicated by finding milk and turkeys lying on the ground along a dirt path.
There isn’t too much else to say in description of Knights of the Round, it’s a early 90’s arcade beat ’em up game in which you simply mash the attack button(with the occassional jump-attack mixed in) to clear a path through enemies hindering your progress from the left side of the screen to the right. I am mildly embarrassed to admit that prior to playing this a couple days ago and looking through the manual for the SNES version, I truly had no idea there was a block move granting you brief invincibility as you counterattack….you learn something new every day I guess. The difficulty level of the Knights of the Round is pretty balanced, as far as arcade games designed to keep you popping quarters into the cabinet if you wished to see the end credits. Some of the later bosses can do some serious damage and can quickly send you to the continue screen, though perhaps now knowing of a block mechanic it may be ever so slightly easier…you know, pressing the X Button on the controller. It is also a game that benefits in having a co-op partner, not just in difficulty but also the overall enjoyment of the game. I fondly remember many hours spent trying to button mash our way to the final boss of the game, usually right before seeing the Game Over screen. One added bonus to playing Knights of the Round as part of the Beat ‘Em Up Bundle is the added option of playing online, as couch co-op isn’t as prevalent as it once was.
I still enjoy going back and playing through some of my old favorites like Knights of the Round on lazy Saturdays such as yesterday. It’s also a bit coincidental that in merely five days, the long-awaited Streets of Rage 4 is to be released. Streets of Rage was another of my absolute favorite games to play on my Sega Genesis as a kid and I’m pretty excited to finally play the 4th installment in the franchise. What are some of your favorite games as a kid that you still enjoy playing from time to time? Did you ever play many old beat ’em up games in the arcade or at home? Thanks for reading!